Sandhill Crane ( Grus canadensis )
Season: Early March begins the spring migration. By early April, migrants have moved on and the local nesting cranes are on nests. Adults with chicks are then present but keep a very low profile until they start getting ready for fall migration in late September . Migration continues until about late November. Sandhills are quite hardy and migrate on about the same schedule as waterfowl.
Places to go: Moody Marsh often hosts concentrations of migrating cranes. (It is also the site of the first Sandhill nest found in Winnebago County in recent history.) Moody marsh is just west of Rockton and is surrounded by Rockton, Shirland, Blodgett and Moody Roads. It is privately owned by several landowners, so access is difficult. In a few places you can CAREFULLY pull off on the side of the roads to look for cranes. At the southwestern corner of the intersection of Trask Bridge and Winnebago Roads is a wetland called Winnebago pond. Cranes sometimes can be seen feeding in the fields in the immediate area. Cranes also nest at Nygren Wetland west of Rockton. They can often be seen from the observation deck along Rockton-Shirland Road.
Tips for finding and identifying: Sandhills are only likely to be confused with Great Blue Herons. Contrary to popular belief, Great Blues frequently fly with their necks extended, especially when they are only going a short distance.
Special cautions: Always keep you eyes open for Whooping Cranes. The migration times and routes and the preferred habitat of the two crane species are very similar.
Submitted by Barbara Williams